The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has proposed introduction of high security coupons of denominations ranging from Rs 5 to Rs 100 to serve as currency for toll on national highways and for return as change to motorists after toll deduction. The proposal comes in the wake of the government’s decision not to extend toll exemption on national highways beyond December 2.
The government halted toll collection when its decision to accept the withdrawn Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes at toll plazas led to chaos in the absence of adequate change, causing massive traffic snarls. On November 9, it announced toll exemption until midnight of November 11 but later extended it to November 14, 18 and 24 and finally to December 2.
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Considering that returning change to toll payers would still be a daunting task due to shortage of lower denomination currencies, sources said the ministry has proposed that coupons of denominations Rs 5, 10, 50 and 100 be issued at main toll plazas which motorists could buy and hand over at nearly 400 toll plazas.
Toll collectors would have to accept these coupons and would have the right to hand coupons as change to highway users.
These could be bought against the scrapped Rs 500 notes that are valid for toll payment. However, the ministry is seeking exemption for use of the old Rs 500 note and hence, the proposed coupons for paying toll until December 31. The present deadline for accepting old Rs 500 for toll is until midnight of December 15.
As a safety measure, these coupons would have security features of bar codes, hologram with the NHAI logo and serial numbers akin to those on new currencies to avoid duplication or printing of fakes.
To prevent black money holders from buying it in bulk for redemption of these coupons against the new currency at a later date, the ministry proposes to distribute them only through officials of the NHAI.
Since these would be distributed through NHAI, the coupons shall be redeemed by the authority both to toll operators as well as motorists. Nearly 90 officials of the NHAI are being deployed for this programme.
The ministry has also lined up sufficient swipe machines at toll booths with help from State Bank of India and others to facilitate payments and flow of traffic.